Ronnie Dunn ‘Ronnie Dunn’ (CD Review)
1. Singer in a Cowboy Band 2. I Don’t Dance 3. Your Kind of Love 4. How Far to Waco
5. Once 6. Cost of Livin’ 7. Bleed Red 8. Last Love I’m Tryin’ 9. Let the Cowboy Rock
10. I Can’t Help Myself 11. I Just Get Lonely 12. Love Owes Me One
Label – Arista Nashville
Catalog – 85761
Release Date – 7 June 2011
Time – 43:43
BLEED RED is Ronnie Dunn’s first solo album in 25 years following the amicable departing of ways with Kix Brooks after Brooks & Dunn closed the curtain on their 20-year award winning ride in country music. Ronnie the “taller, lanky one” of the multi-platinum duo had as a solo artist, back in the 80’s previously released three singles, ‘It’s Written All Over Your Face’, ‘She Put the Sad in All His Songs’, and ‘Jessie’ which had limited chart success.
Dunn & his new band when rehearsing the songs on his album in a backyard building on his property, said “the neighbors now hate us!” Well it seems the fans beg to differ, as the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country album chart. The record is produced by Dunn saying: “That way if I take a bullet, no one gets caught in the line of fire”. Also on this contemporary 12-track offering he co-wrote 8 and self pens two of the songs.
The autobiographical opener ‘Singer In A Cowboy Band’ with driving guitars and drums crashing creates a fast paced rocky start. Living and breathing with the guitar banged up in the back and heading out on the fast lane, Dunn cries: I played Texas, beer joints and rodeos, Big D arenas, truck stops, casinos, Sang in every dive and joint in Oklahoma, Did hard time in a few in Arizona, Been in every hole-in-the wall from Memphis to Maine.
It is co-written with the much credited Craig Wiseman who has previous Brooks & Dunn connections. With Dunn he penned ‘Believe’ and the title cut on 2005’s HILLBILLY DELUXE and again contributed on ‘Believer’ from RED DIRT ROAD.
Wiseman, Dunn and David Lee Murphy (Thompson Square ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me’) collaborate on ‘I Don’t Dance’. Again this has rock-flavourings but electric guitars are held back on the leash a little more. It recounts a scene in the sweaty cowboy bars. Out on the stage with old guitar in hand looking through the smoke and lights he’s seen it all before – The losers, cheaters, lost souls, fist fights and those fine lookin’ whiskey drinkin’ cowgirls waltzing to the music. Temptation is resisted and loyalty is shown, singing a song to an absent loved one at home. He knows she is the only one he will fondly embrace and dance with.
The mid-tempo ‘Your Kind Of Love’ written by Maile Misajon (member of Eden’s Crush) and Jeremy Stover continues the loved up theme. This cowboy is well and truly roped in. He can’t get enough of the gentle whisperings in the ears and the safety and warmth he feels in another’s arms.
On the Dunn/Terry McBride co-write, ‘How Far to Waco’ (see video) heading down the highway we enter Tex-Mex cantina-country territory. On this bright and breezy affair mariachi horns accompany the chugging Telecasters. It should go down a storm with British fans who loved the music and danceable tunes by The Mavericks.
On ‘Once’ (Jamie Floyd/ Philip Larue/ Peter Sallis) with its gentle opening, steel and organ are audible for the first time and then the pace increases. On the twist and turns on life’s rocky road with doubts and loneliness it speaks of a kind of love your lucky to find but once in a lifetime.
On the delightful ballad and second single Cost of Livin’ (Dunn/ Philip Coleman) with just acoustic picking and a mellow organ it provides a story-telling gem. A retired soldier returns home from the desert to encounter the harsh realities when searching for work in tough economic times. He has the references and the details are mapped out on the page – “A number you can reach me, my social and my age”. He gave everything to that last job but its sadly headed south. His own folks are struggling and now the bank has started callin’ and wolves come knocking at the door.
The Tommy Lee James and Andrew Dorff penned ‘Bleed Red’ was the first single and charted at #10 on Billboard. James lent his hand with ‘A Man This Lonely’ and ‘If You See Him, If You See Her’ to the Brooks & Dunn catalogue. Ronnie Dunn made his solo ACM Awards debut when he showcased this power ballad. His distinctive and trademark vocal echo it’s emotional undertones. With its string accompaniment it captures the universal themes that everyone faces. We are all human and all make mistakes, we all have regrets, we’ve all felt hurt and shed the tears: Let’s say were sorry, before it’s too late, give forgiveness a chance/ Turn the anger into water; let it slip through our hands / We all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way
On the heartfelt Dunn-penned ‘Last Love I’m Tryin’ it opens gently and gradually builds as the anxiety unfolds. No more heartbreak and here today gone tomorrow lovers. It’s a desperate plea and desire to settle down for the long haul.
Written with Dallas Davidson (Blake Shelton ‘Kiss My Country’) on ‘Let the Cowboy Rock’ the good times roll and the whiskey flows. This though is a rather bland and forgettable track.
On the more pleasing and quieter ballad ‘I Can’t Help Myself ‘, dark clouds build on the horizon. The feeling might be right but the lover belongs to another but in playing devil’s advocate it’s hard to let go. The blues ebb and flow on Dunn composition ‘I Just Get Lonely’. It finds the lonesome singer with a bottle of wine and a weak heart and in the confusion after a break-up, pours out regrettable thoughts down the line – Move on dude!
On the bittersweet, gospel tinged ‘Love Owes Me One’ (Dunn/McBride/Bobby Pinson) it’s full of self-pity, as like this album ends, a relationship does too. Throwing in the towel we hear: “Oh I’ve had it, leave the sad brave and lonely, break these chains it’s had on me” but keeping the faith maybe with the right roll of the dice better fortunes will return where the love stakes are concerned.
The softer tracks with depth stand out from the pack but for those who bought into the Brooks & Dunn brand with just slight differences to that tested formula then this effort will not disappoint.